Summary: How do i know I have truly forgiven an offense?
Last time, we read in Genesis 45:1-15 about the reconciliation of Joseph and his brothers. Joseph’s brothers had sold him into slavery in Egypt. There, he was unjustly accused, convicted and imprisoned. But God was using these experiences to shape Joseph for His purposes.
While in prison, Joseph got acquainted with Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker, who had also been sent to jail. He interpreted dreams for each of them, which came to pass. The baker was hanged, but the cupbearer was restored to his position. Joseph begged the cup bearer to put in a good word for him. But the cup bearer forgot Joseph’s plea.
Two years later, when Pharaoh had dreams no one could interpret, the cup bearer remembered Joseph. He was summoned, interpreted the dreams - there would be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Egypt needed to take advantage of the first seven years to prepare for the last seven. Pharaoh was so impressed that he made Joseph second in command only to himself, and appointed him to be in charge of making preparations for the seven years of famine.
Under Joseph’s leadership, not only did Egypt have plenty during the years of famine, but people in neighboring lands also found help in Egypt. Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt for help. By the time God brought all this about, He had be able to enable Joseph to forgive his brothers and they were reconciled, as we read last time.
As we considered Joseph’s example last time, we noted four things that will indicate we have truly be able to forgive. If we have forgiven . . .
1. We will not be angry with God - Genesis 45:7-8
2. We will not want our brother to fear us - Genesis 45:3-4a
3. We will not want our brother to feel guilty - Genesis 45:5
4. We will not want our brother to be humiliated - Genesis 45:1
This kind of forgiveness can make reconciliation possible; which is what came about between Joseph and his brothers. Joseph had his brothers retrieve their father, and all their families settled in the land of Goshen in Egypt.
Now, I want us to move forward in the story a few years later, when Joseph’s father had died. (READ TEXT)
Let’s note two more indications that one has genuinely forgiven.
5. Our forgiveness will be unconditional - vs. 15-17
Now that their father had died, his brothers feared that Joseph might change his mind. They thought his forgiveness was conditional - that he was forgiving only as long as their father was alive. But they were wrong. Joseph’s forgiveness had to do with the change God had brought about in his heart. Joseph’s forgiveness of his brothers had nothing to do with anything around him; it had everything to do with what was within him - and God had placed forgiveness in his heart toward his brothers. Their lack of understanding made Joseph weep.
Now, as we have previously pointed out, this didn’t happen overnight. Forgiving others, is just like any other command God gives to us, it can only be done as God gives us the strength.
“Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” - Philippians 2:12-13 (NLT)
The Scripture makes it clear that one of the indications that I genuinely belong to the Lord is that He has changed my desires, so that I desire now to do His will. But now, as Paul challenged the Philippians, we need to let the fact of our salvation be seen by others.
Now, with respect to forgiveness, God has forgiven us unconditionally. That is what the cross is all about. God has unconditionally provided forgiveness for everyone who has believed, will believe and will not believe, and he placed no conditions on providing for our forgiveness.
“We were living against God, but at just the right time Christ died for us. Very few people will die to save the life of someone else, even if it is for a good person. Someone might be willing to diefor an especially good person. But Christ died for us while we were still sinners, and by this God showed how much he loves us.” - Romans 5:6-8 (Easy to Read)
As we have pointed out, while reconciliation involves two people, forgiveness only involves one. To benefit from God’s forgiveness and be reconciled to Him, that requires repentance. But the forgiveness that makes reconciliation with God possible has been provided through Christ’s sacrifice, and that forgiveness is unconditional. God will never go back on His provision for our forgiveness - through the cross, His forgiveness has been provided “once for all.”